Your body’s most basic stress relief – breathing

All information is courtesy of the experts at Symmetry.

Let’s talk about stress. No, not that stress. You’re probably thinking about the stress of your schedule or of the bills coming up. I’m talking about your body’s stress response. Whether it’s responding to extreme temperatures or trying to keep up with a tough workout, how your body responds can affect its performance! Want to improve your performance? Improve your body’s response to stress at its most basic level…breath.

What is breath work?
The goal of breath work is to teach your body to be more efficient. Breathing is the most basic requirement for your body to function, but it is possible to require less energy to do it. That way, when you’re climbing in thin air 20,000 feet above sea level, your body is able to function properly!

How does it work?
During the day, focus on breathing through your nose. Learn to identify where you’re breathing. Relax your shoulders and neck to avoid breathing into your upper chest, instead focusing on expanding your ribs and sides – not just your stomach. Breath side to side, not up and down.

Breath exercises
Box breath (breathing tempo 1:1:1:1)
Sit down or lay on your back with your knees bent. Where you are is less important than making sure your back is flat and your head is straight. Inhale through the nose, hold a breath, exhale through the nose and hold again. Taylor Somerville, founder of Symmetry, recommends starting with three seconds each and going from there. As you work through this exercise, focus on slowing your breaths.

Wim Hof
Take 30 full inhales through the mouth and out of the mouth. Note that these are not full exhales. The breaths should essentially “fall out” of your mouth. After the final exhale, hold your breath as long as you can, then inhale and hold for an additional 15 seconds. Do this exercise three times.

Recovery breathing (breathing tempo 1:2)
Lay on your back with your feet in a chair or on the wall (or just lay in your bed). Calm your mind, then inhale for three seconds and exhale for six. If you’re able, work up to a 4:8 count, but remember this should not be stressful.

Let’s get started!
Overall, focus on breathing in your belly, not your chest. Over time, you should notice some breathing improvement.